1. Thirty-one years before the Battle of Yavin.


The Nightsister's pale skin was flushed with pink soft enough to tear through, red flayed muscle that could, with one more move one more strike one more Force-brought accident , cascade blood across her cheek and let him be finished with this fight, this problem in the way of his task—Boot-soles tripping against metal grid, not rattling the catwalk.

Darth Maul pressed forward into Black Sun's stronghold. Darth Sidious wanted the criminal organization wiped out, not because they were criminal but because they were an organization. There were only going to be two organizations in the coming political struggle: the Trade Federation and the Republic. And the Sith, not an organization but organized into two who would watch, wait, manipulate-and fight-

They needed to be the only powers who would last.

So Darth Maul had fought through Alexi Garyn's stronghold, destroying his vigos and growing his fear. And then Black Sun threw one last challenge at him. There was this enforcer, a white-skinned woman who pranced like a bird and felt in the Force like the cawings in the jungle. She looked at him from under marked eyelids and fought with the vibrosword, slide up slice down metal-glint.

And she thought he cared where he was from. She tried dun moch on him. "You've never faced my kind before."

He saw the feathers glued into hard plastic tubes over her shoulders, faking the natural plumage of birds from any world. He could not remember. There was something tickling at the back of his mind, but it refused to become familiar. Darth Sidious had told him about Nightsisters. He knew where they lived, how their traditional clothing looked, and that they were one of many splinter groups of Force users.

There was a knowingness in the Nightsister bodyguard's eyes, a confidence that lurked like vine traps in the jungle darkness. As Darth Maul worked to remember, as he worked to engage with the lightsaber-hum and vibroblade-buzz like a hyperdrive drawing its power from the engines, she slowed and lost her confidence. She knew something. He did not know that he knew it, but he did too—

And he said, "No, you've never faced my kind before," and, perfectly content not knowing what that kind was, he charged forward and killed her.